Red Sox

Major league call-up 'definitely a surprise' to Yoan Moncada

Major league call-up 'definitely a surprise' to Yoan Moncada

OAKLAND -- Yoan Moncada's trip through the minors was a relatively brief one. After signing with the Red Sox at the age of 19 in February of 2015, he reached the big leagues in less than 19 months, bypassing Triple A along the way.

But as Moncada somewhat sheepishly revealed on his first day in the majors Friday, he thought the trip was going to be even quicker.

"When I first came to the U.S.,'' said Moncada through a translator, "I thought you signed and right away, you go to the big leagues. But soon I realized it wasn't that easy. You have to go to the minors. I had to stay focused to do what I had to do and stayed the course.''

Moncada, who was not in the lineup Friday night but will be in the starting lineup Saturday, tried to call his mother in Cuba Wednesday night after Portland Sea Dogs manager Carlos Febles gave him the news of his promotion, but she didn't answer.

(Moncada did get into the game in the bottom of the seventh, taking over at third base while Travis Shaw shifted to first. In his first major league at-bat in the top of the eighth, he walked and scored from first on Shaw's double to right. An inning later, he came up again and struck out)

By the time he reached her Thursday morning, it was old news. She had already heard, but Moncada was still trying to process it.

"I felt very happy and proud,'' he said, "It was definitely a surprise to me. But she was very excited and the family was excited. That's what you come to the country for -- to play baseball and hopefully make the majors.''

As the Sox did with Andrew Benintendi - who, like Moncada, jumped from Double A to the majors -- the Sox thought it best to give Moncada a day to acclimate himself. And there were some fine points to go over, too.

"There was a little bit of a dress rehearsal (earlier in the afternoon),'' said John Farrell, "and a walk-through, particularly with our overshifts and the responsibilities of the third baseman. So he spent some time with (infield instructor Brian Butterfield), walking through placement on the field, some of the terminology that he'll be (exposed) to for the first time here. And it will be a day for him to just sit and watch a game."

Going forward, the Sox plan to have Moncada playing against most righthanders, with Aaron Hill playing against lefties. Hill, too, could come off the bench as a defensive replacement in late innings.

Where that leaves Travis Shaw is uncertain, but Shaw's second-half slump leaves him fighting for playing time.

"He's not a forgotten guy, I will tell you that,'' said Farrell of Shaw.

Moncada has limited experience in the U.S. at third, having played just 10 games at third at Portland after shifting from second last month.

But as Moncada and Farrell both emphasized, Moncada actually played more third than anywhere else in his native Cuba, so the position is hardly new to him.

"The only difference I see (between third and second),'' Moncada said, "is the double play is a different dynamic. It's more about reaction, as opposed second base where it's more agility-based.''

"Granted, this is a quicker pace and (higher) level,'' acknowledged Farrell. "But he wouldn't be here if we didn't think he could step in and contribute. We feel like he can step in and give us some impact with the bat, particularly against some righthanded pitching.''

 

David Ortiz holds impressive American League record this century

David Ortiz holds impressive American League record this century

David Ortiz is one of MLB's best designated hitters of all time.

For 14 years, Ortiz played as a member of the Boston Red Sox after the Minnesota Twins let him go. In Boston, Ortiz became one of the game's most powerful sluggers and posted a career average of .290 with 483 homers with the Red Sox.

Given Ortiz's immense success with the club, it's no surprise that he's among the century's best at launching the long ball. According to Boston Sports Info (@BostonSportsInf on Twitter), Ortiz has more home runs this century than any other player in the American League.

Ortiz just edged out Alex Rodriguez (507 homers) for the overall lead though Ortiz did it in 438 more at-bats. Aside from A-Rod, no other player is within 100 homers of Big Papi.

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This is surely an impressive mark and it speaks to just how good Ortiz was during his time with Boston. When adding in his 17 postseason homers, Ortiz hit exactly 500 career homers with the Red Sox and helped power them to three World Series titles during his time with the team. And 93 percent of his homers this century, postseason included, came in a Red Sox uniform.

It may take a while for any player to pass Ortiz for this high-water mark. Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout is probably the most likely candidate to pass Ortiz as the 28-year-old currently has 285 homers in 4,340 at-bats that have all come with the Angels. Trout is under contract with the Angels until 2031 so unless he's traded out of the AL, he seems to be on pace to eventually beat Ortiz.

But that could take close to another decade. And until then, Ortiz will reign supreme on this century's AL home run leaderboard.

10 memorable individual performances in Red Sox home openers

10 memorable individual performances in Red Sox home openers

Today should've been the 108th opener at Fenway Park for the Boston Red Sox as they were to host the Chicago White Sox to begin their home schedule.

But as we all know, the coronavirus pandemic has changed that as well as the rest of the world. 

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There's still hope that they'll be baseball at Fenway in 2020, but on the day the gates were supposed to open and signal the unofficial start of spring in Boston, let's look back at a few of the Red Sox's most memorable individual performances with some Opening Day Dreaming Delivered by Coors Light.

April 20, 1912

The Red Sox christened Fenway Park by beating their rivals from New York, then known as the Highlanders, 7-6 in 11 innings before 24,000, including Mayor John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, grandfather of future president John F. Kennedy, and the Royal Rooters.

Tris Speaker (pictured, 3-for-6, two RBI, game-winning single) and Steve Yerkes (5-for-7) were your hitting heroes for a team that would go on to win the World Series. 

April 12, 1916

A left-hander named Babe Ruth held the Philadelphia A's to one unearned run on four hits and strikes out six in 8 1/3 innings. He went 0-for-2 batting ninth, proving he didn't have much of a future as a hitter. The '16 Sox would go on to win the World Series. 

April 6, 1973

On a day that featured the debut of the designated hitter in the American League, catcher Carlton Fisk, coming off his rookie of the year season, got his second year off to a booming start with three hits, including a two-run homer of Yankees ace Mel Stottlemyre, and six RBI as the Sox spotted their archrivals a three-run lead and roll, 15-5.

(Now, if we could just forget Fisk's three-run, eighth-inning homer for the White Sox in a 5-3 Red Sox loss in the Fenway opener in '81 after Boston let him switch Sox as a free agent that winter.) 

April 10, 1998

Mo Vaughn hit a walk-off grand slam to cap the Red Sox' rally from a five-run deficit off a Mariners bullpen that featured ex-Sox relievers Tony Fossas and Heathcliff Slocumb and future Sox reliever Mike Timlin.

Those that stuck around Fenway when it was 7-2 to start the ninth headed home happy after an 8-7 win on Opening Day. The Sox would go on to make the playoffs at 92-70 but were eliminated in the ALDS by the Cleveland Indians. 

April 1, 2002

Tony Clark, the future head of the MLB Players Association, was a Red Sox first baseman for 90 games in 2002. In the first of those, he went 3-for-5 with a home run and drove in three runs.

The Sox needed all of them in a wild 12-11 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. Clark would help the Sox out even more two years later when, as a Yankee, his ground-rule double in the ninth kept Ruben Sierra from scoring from first and ending ALCS Game 5 and with it, the Sox' World Series hopes.

April 11, 2005 

In addition to being memorable for the pregame ring ceremony and banner raising that was 86 years in the making (and for Yankees closer Mariano Rivera being cheered and Alex Rodriguez, pictured, jeered by the Fenway fans for their roles in the Sox' 2004 pennant), the Sox got a strong pitching performance from Tim Wakefield in an 8-1 thumping of the Yankees.

Veterans of '04 Wakefield (7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 5 SOs), Trot Nixon (2-for-3, two RBI) and Doug Mirabelli (two-run homer) started '05 off right.

April 8, 2008

The Sox home opener in 2008 was another banner-raising day that included a tearful Bill Buckner emerging from the Green Monster to a standing ovation to throw out the first pitch.

After the pregame festivities, the Sox rolled to a 5-0 shutout over the Detroit Tigers. Kevin Youkilis went 3-for-3 with two RBI and Daisuke Matsuzaka allowed four hits and struck out seven in 6 2/3 innings. 

April 7, 2009

Josh Beckett held the Tampa Bay Rays to one run on two hits and struck out 10 as the Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-3.

Beckett would go on to win 17 games and the Sox racked up 95 victories that season before being swept by the Angels in the ALDS.

April 8, 2013

Clay Buchholz got another championship season off to a great start as he shut out the Baltimore Orioles for seven innings on three hits.

Daniel Nava's three-run homer provided the offense in a 3-1 victory.

April 13, 2015

Mookie Betts showed off his future MVP form early in the 2015 season with a 2-for-4, four-RBI day that included a three-run homer in the second inning and two stolen bases in the first.

All of that came after he robbed Bryce Harper of a home run in the first with a leaping grab in front of the bullpen fence in right. The Sox went on to a 9-4 win over the Washington Nationals but it didn't portend to good things as they finished 78-84 and last in the AL East. 

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